Only weeks after buying my car, I am beginning to understand the rules of the road here in Namhae.
- Junctions: Cars bigger and better than yours have right of way. You can try, but they will cause more damage.
- Stop lights: for advice only; in the absence of cameras/ pedestrians/ other traffic you may ignore them.
- Speed limits: a guideline for passing safely under speed cameras; all other stretches of road should be covered at the preferred speed of the impatient driver behind you.
- Overtaking: If you insist on driving within legal speed limits, stick to the centre line, so allowing faster moving cars to pass you in lay-bys, petrol stations, road junctions and any other suitable space to your right.
- Other road users: Again, stick to the centre to avoid hitting scooters, mini-tractors, old people dragging wheeled baskets, people with cows and hikers walking four abreast.
- Use of the horn: replaces the need for other inconveniences such as indicating, slowing at junctions and patience. Particular useful for reminding oncoming traffic that they are speeding towards you in the centre of the road.
- Parking: Triple parking in narrow streets is acceptable only if you pick up your take-away dinner as quickly as possible and/or respond promptly to horns.
- Drainage ditches – the 3′ deep, 2′ wide concrete channels that abut the road edge. Don’t drive into them.
While I acknowledge these local rules I do tend to stick to the more conventional ones, much to the annoyance of the locals. I have been practicing my ‘resolute and unperturbed’ look as I tootle around the narrow roads like a mother duck on a trip to the lake. Partly it is my car’s fault – a ten-year old Daewoo Matiz with an 860cc engine is hardly a Jeremy Clarkson experience. For the rest I take full responsibility. Better annoying than dead, I say. Though some drivers around here may disagree.